DEPUTY Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday called for the two groups at loggerheads in the ongoing Aware saga to show respect and tolerance for each other’s views.
He was one of three Government leaders to comment on the issue.
‘It is important in Singapore that all groups make sure that when they have a point of view to put across, that they do so in a way which is tolerant of other groups,’ he said on the sidelines of an Economic Development Board briefing.
‘Know that other people have other points of view, that if you push your argument too hard, there will always be others who push back. So if we want to avoid that situation, we should operate in Singapore in a way that is respectful and tolerant of others’ views.’
While most Singaporeans are prepared to accept the views of others, they do not want to have other views pushed upon them, he said.
‘We want to see a Singapore where we can live together and learn how to live together even when we have differences,’ he noted. He did not think the dispute was one of religion, he added.
His comments come in the wake of the dispute between old and new members of the Association of Women for Action and Research. After a new executive committee comprising new members was voted in last month, veteran members demanded to know what it stood for. The new members revealed on Thursday that they came in because they felt Aware had lost sight of its original purpose and become pro lesbian and pro homosexual. The old guard refuted the charges yesterday.
Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said in an e-mail response that disagreements between members of social organisations occur from time to time.
‘Members have to and usually do resolve these differences themselves,’ she said. ‘This is not a national dispute and should not upset the balance and tenor of our open, tolerant and secular society. Neither should Aware members allow these disagreements to become a vehicle for views on contentious, divisive issues to be pushed aggressively. This would polarise our society and have a very adverse effect on our social fabric.’
Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Yu-Foo Yee Shoon said Aware should settle the issue, respect its members’ wishes as well as its constitution. She was speaking on the sidelines of an environment awards event.